Church pressed to rethink and embrace the LGBT community

Over condemnation and justification the need of the hour is that Church embrace and heal people of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community, expressed Protestant leaders who debated homosexuality in Chennai last week.

There were over hundred participants from major Protestant churches and also 50 from the LGBT community who gathered on July 28 to study and debate on 'Indian Church and Repealing of the Section 377 of IPC'.

Bishop DK Sahu, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), opened the study urging Church and Civil Society to address the issue from a Christian perspective keeping with its tenets of "love, just and inclusiveness".

He welcomed the decriminalising of homosexuality by the Delhi High Court July 2 and said homosexuals must not be branded as criminals, but they should be "nurtured and helped out" by Churches as part of creation.

Rev. Dr. V. Devasahayam, the chairperson of the Tamilnadu Christian Council and the CSI Bishop in Chennai also gave a more favorable impression on the decision that permitted homosexual sex between consenting adults.

The Delhi HC judgement, he said, has helped the Church to understand the issue of 'human sexuality'. "Condemning them and rejecting them are easy but the Church is not called to behave so. Churches should reread the scriptures which refer to homosexuality and unnatural sex from present context," he said.

He furthers his view by referring to Luther's theology of salvation by grace. "Since God of the Bible is so gracious enough towards all humankind why do we have a confrontive attitude and combative approach," he asked.

He continues that even scientific studies proved homosexual cases were 'genetical' and concludes that they also contain God's image. "By ignoring and discriminating them we insult our creator," he says.

He exhorted the "Indian Church to accompany people of different sexual orientation with her for holistic living and execute the mission of God towards just and inclusive society."

A Catholic priest Fr. Henry Jerome is also of an opinion that Church must study the case of homosexuals before "speaking out of the context".

Upset over the uproar of Churches on the issue, he says, "Condemnation and exclusion will make the Church 'un-contextual' but the Church is to be 'in-contextual'," adding, "Church must be human right defenders of the LGBT communities."

The members of the LGBT community also expressed their views during the debate. Mr. Anto James asks: "I did not opt for this sexual orientation but I am with it is whose fault? Our life is similar to a born visually disabled person brought to Jesus by the people and asking 'On whose sin he born as blind?' Whose fault am I born like this?"

The debate organised by the NCCI Commission on Justice Peace and Creation was participated by the Church of South India, Marthoma, Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Churches, Arcot Lutheran Church, Methodist Churches in India, Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church, Salvation Army, Orthodox Church and Evangelical Churches in India, Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Gurukul, Madras Theological College, World Vision and others.